I believe that every executive should participate in one or two interviews each year, whether they are actively searching for a new job or not. If nothing else, participating in interviews will afford you opportunities to expand your network, gain exposure to new perspectives and viewpoints, and stay humble and hungry.
In preparing for interviews, whether you are serious about the role or not, I recommend bearing in mind the following strategies:
1. Leverage online resources
It’s essential to do your homework before walking into an interview. Search the company’s website for insights pertaining to the company’s product and services, customers, recent initiatives, recent financial performance, etc. If you know which individuals you will be interviewing with ahead of time, research them and familiarize yourself with their background and credentials.
If you work for a major corporation, most of the interview questions used by hiring managers at your firm are publicly posted on Glassdoor — along with recommended answers. It’s especially important to practice behavioral interview questions as these are increasingly being used by employers. Prepare responses to common behavioral based questions, including those pertaining to teamwork (“Describe a time when you faced a difficult conflict while working as part of a team”, for example), adaptability (“Tell me about a time when you needed to overcome a seemingly impossible obstacle”, for example), communication (“Reflect on a time when you needed to persuade someone to accept your proposal”, for example), and values (“Tell me about the accomplishment you’re most proud of”, for example).
Practicing for an interview is crucial. Conduct mock interviews, tape yourself, and have others give you feedback. You have to be able to clearly articulate the value you bring to the table.
Oftentimes, when preparing for interviews, executives undervalue the importance of body language. How you speak, how you enter the room, and how comfortable you look are really important. I recommend playing the video without sound as it will allow you to focus exclusively on your use (or misuse) of body language.
3. Prepare questions
Chances are interviewers will afford you the opportunity to pose questions to them during the course of your interview. It’s important to avoid asking generic questions (“What is your favorite part about working for the company?”, for example). Instead, demonstrate your creativity and inquisitiveness by asking questions that allow you to develop a deep understanding of the intricacies of the role and company. Such as “Tell me about your most successful employees. What do they do differently?” The answer to this question will help a candidate understand how a company defines success and what specific behaviors can lead to that success.
4. Follow up
Don’t assume that your interview is over after you depart the company’s premises. The most effective executives leave a lasting impression by sending a personalized thank you note. As part of your thank you note, include specific details about your interview and highlight any new insights you learned.
Katharine Hepburn once remarked, “Death will be a great relief. No more interviews.” Interviews need not be stressful experiences...just make sure you practice, gain interview skills, and prepare.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner